Japan awarded Observer Status in Eurodrone programme

By Defence Industry Europe

On November 30, the Government of Japan officially received Observer Status in the European Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (MALE RPAS) Programme, also known as Eurodrone, managed by the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR).


The Letter of Approval, undersigned by Vice-Admiral Stawitzki, Chairman of the OCCAR Board of Supervisors (BoS), was presented to the Japanese Ambassador to Germany, Hidenao Yanagi, by Joachim Sucker, the OCCAR-EA Director. This milestone reflects the growing interest and willingness of Japan to collaborate with European nations on key defense projects.

Director Sucker expressed the BoS’s appreciation for Japan’s engagement with OCCAR, emphasizing the Board’s positive stance on Japan’s initiative to explore collaborative opportunities and acknowledge the importance of Japan-Europe cooperation in defense technologies and strategies.



The Eurodrone project, launched in 2016, has achieved several significant milestones, including the successful conclusion of a Definition Study to define common requirements between Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. This study, completed in 2018, was followed by a System Requirement Review (SRR) and a System Preliminary Design Review (SPDR). The subsequent two years focused on elaborating an offer and successfully negotiating a comprehensive contract covering development, production, and initial in-service support for 20 systems. Airbus Defence and Space GmbH serves as the Prime Contractor, with Airbus Defence and Space S.A.U, Leonardo, and Dassault as Major Sub-Contractors. This contract was formalized on February 24, 2022.

In 2021, the MALE RPAS programme received financial backing from the European Commission under the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP). OCCAR then negotiated and signed a Grant Agreement with industrial partners. Following the completion of the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) and the Critical Design Review (CDR), the manufacture of the first prototype is anticipated to commence in 2024, with the delivery of serial items targeted by the end of the decade.



The European MALE RPAS is expected to be a pivotal enabler for future operations, granting European nations state-of-the-art capabilities and becoming a key pillar in any Future Combat Air System (FCAS) to enhance collaborative combat capabilities.



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